Minnesota is becoming to 2008 politics what Florida was in 2000 or Washington State in 2004 -- a real mess. The outcome will determine whether Democrats get 58 members of the U.S. Senate, giving them an effective filibuster-proof vote on many issues.
When voters woke up on Wednesday morning after the election, Senator Norm Coleman led Al Franken by what seemed like a relatively comfortable 725 votes. By Wednesday night, that lead had shrunk to 477. By Thursday night, it was down to 336. By Friday, it was 239. Late Sunday night, the difference had gone down to just 221 -- a total change over 4 days of 504 votes.
Amazingly, this all has occurred even though there hasn’t even yet been a recount. Just local election officials correcting claimed typos in how the numbers were reported. Counties will certify their results today, and their final results will be sent to the secretary of state by Friday. The actual recount won’t even start until November 19.
Correcting these typos was claimed to add 435 votes to Franken and take 69 votes from Coleman. Corrections were posted in other races, but they were only a fraction of those for the Senate. The Senate gains for Franken were 2.5 times the gain for Obama in the presidential race count, 2.9 times the total gain that Democrats got across all Minnesota congressional races, and 5 times the net loss that Democrats suffered for all state House races.
Virtually all of Franken’s new votes came from just three out of 4130 precincts, and almost half the gain (246 votes) occurred in one precinct -- Two Harbors, a small town north of Duluth along Lake Superior -- a heavily Democratic precinct where Obama received 64 percent of the vote. None of the other races had any changes in their vote totals in that precinct.
To put this change in perspective, that single precinct’s corrections accounted for a significantly larger net swing in votes between the parties than occurred for all the precincts in the entire state for the presidential, congressional, or state house races.
The two other precincts (Mountain Iron in St. Louis county and Partridge Township in Pine county) accounted for another 100 votes each. The change in each precinct was half as large as the pickup for Obama from the corrections for the entire state.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune attributed these types of mistakes to “exhausted county officials,” and that indeed might be true, but the sizes of the errors in these three precincts are surprisingly large.
With ACORN filing more than 43,000 registration forms this year, 75 percent of all new registrations in the state, Minnesota was facing vote fraud problems even before the election. Even a small percentage of those registrations resulting in fraudulent votes could tip this election.
To many, it just seems like too much of a coincidence that Minnesota's one tight race just happens to be the race with the most "corrected" votes by far. But the real travesty will be to start letting election officials divine voter's intent. If you want to discourage people from voting, election fraud is one sure way of doing it.
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